A little bit of green

Green is one of my favourite colours, so I thought I’d share some of the green things currently in my garden…

This is the first time I’ve grown broadbeans, and they’re going well. Nothing has attacked them, and I learnt early on (thank you Matt), that I needed to support them from the wind. A piece of string tied from one fence post to another worked perfectly.

They’re in full bloom now, with gorgeous white and purple flowers, and the first of hopefully many pods has begun to appear.

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This broccoli is also a first in my garden. It’s only quite small, yet is already growing a head of broccoli. Can’t wait to eat it!

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My snow peas are taking over! Well not quite, but they are loving the spot where I planted them. Soon they shall be covered in little white flowers.

Snow pea sprouts

Last but not least, is kale, another first for my garden. I love its crinkly little leaves. While currently a light green, the leaves will darken once it matures.

Kale

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Love me some chickens

Back in June I decided to add two little chickens to my family. How old are they? No idea. I have this problem called bad memory and tend to forget a lot of things. Anyway, they’ve been laying since late July.

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Chimmi (centre stage in this pic) and Doreen are both Isa Browns, and are terrible models. They are obsessed with food, and unfortunately are rather difficult to photograph, so excuse the over exposure.

When I first got them, I was worried how Chase, my old little Chihuahua cross Jack Russel (below), would go with them. She has a habit of chasing each and every bird that sets foot in the yard… even at 13 years of age.

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It turns out I didn’t need to worry too much. She was excited at first, but once she got over that she’s been pretty good. There have been a couple of incidents, where she’s gotten cranky in her old age, which has resulted in a game of chase around the chicken coop, but the chickens hold their own.

They have this whole kung fu thing going on. Just the other day, it was the chickens who were having a go at Chase, both ganging up on her. Wings were flapping, clawed feet outstretched, reaching for Chase. They were both taking turns the naughty little chickens.

I must admit though, they are a whole lot of entertainment. From their unique little personalities, through to their dinosaur like run, I could watch them for hours. And the eggs are a bonus! I would say they help with kitchen waste and food scraps, but in this case my two are a little do-do, and don’t seem to want to expand their palette. It’s all good though, plenty of room in the compost.

What gardening means to me

I often find it hard to explain what gardening means to me. When I try, people often look at me blankly and change the subject. In a way, I feel sad for those people, for they’ll never understand or experience the pure joy it can bring to one’s life.

Gardening is a part of my soul, my connection to earth and everything beautiful around me. I feel so much joy when my hands are in the dirt, a delicate seed in my palm, knowing that with my care and attention the seed will thrive, and grow into something beautiful.

My love of plants and nature in general started when I was very young. My grandfather used to grow fruit and vegetables in a plot out on a friend’s farm. I remember popping open gooseberries and peeling back their papery skins, while Pop stood there smiling. My sisters and I used to peel peas from their pod for my mum, but would often end up eating half of them raw, laughing and giggling as they ended up all over the place.

I remember when my dad planted a silky oak tree in the backyard. I thought it was so beautiful, I used to sit out beside it and talk to it… err, let me just say I was quite young at the time.

I also remember the first time I attempted to grow something. I planted a large pot of mint seeds, and for the first week every afternoon after school I sat picking out all the weeds that had miraculously appeared… they weren’t weeds.

My love of gardening continues to grow the older I get, and I like to think that I got my green thumb from my pop. He was always so fit and healthy well into his 60s, given his time spent in his garden and it’s something I aspire to. Just the thought of pottering around in my garden when I’m old and grey brings a smile to my face.

Most people wouldn’t understand the excitement I feel when the wind scatters piles of leaves all over my lawn. For me it means carbon for my compost, which I often don’t have enough of (other than paper). Just the other day I was aerating it (the compost), and found a worm with an egg sac. Up until a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have even known worms have egg sacs (egg sacs? yeah right), but I saw it and got so excited! The worms were having a party in my compost. Woo!

We have a couple of crows building a nest high up in a huge eucalyptus tree in our yard, rosellas often on the lawn eating grass seeds, king parrots regularly flying about (who I found out were eating all my tomatoes!), and a flock of about eight kookaburras often laughing merrily up in the tree.

I could spend my whole weekend in my garden, and it would be time well spent. Now with the new addition of two crazy chickens, it’s even more fun.

One day I’ll have the garden I dream of, I’ll grow all sorts of edible plants, have more chickens to add to the flock, have beautiful trees and plants, a stunning pond and natural pool, and maybe even my own bee hive. Until then, I’m content with my little garden out the back, because as long as I’m growing things, then I’m happy.

It’s hard to put into words what gardening means to me. The best way to describe it, would probably be to say that it makes my heart soar and my soul sing.

There is a quote I have always loved – ” I climbed the tree to see the world” – and although I love it, I didn’t have to climb the tree. Simply sitting against its trunk, under the dappled sunlight through its leaves, the world came to me.

How to harvest marigold seeds

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Marigolds have become one of my favourite little flowers. Not because I love orange, or because they’re cute, but because they are a god send when it comes to keeping pests away from an organic garden.

One of the biggest problems I face is keeping away the bad bugs that want to munch on everything I grow. Marigolds have quite a pungent smell, which tends to act as a repellant for many bugs, so by planting them in and around the garden, they help deter pests. Plus they’re considered to have a low pollen level, which is always a plus for anyone who suffers hayfever.

This year I’ve harvested the seeds, so I can grow them myself rather than spend a fortune on buying seedlings, so thought I’d share how this is done.

With marigolds, the seeds come after the flower heads die. Once a flower dies, it’ll start drying out and turn brown (top left hand corner of picture). When it gets to this stage, simply pinch them off, and carefully extract the seeds from the inside. You can peel the top open, however I prefer squeezing from the bottom and letting them all pop out.

You should end up with a heap of seeds (see front of pic). Which is great, because it’s likely that not all will germinate.

Happy harvesting.

Mexican bean beetle?

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Mexican bean beetle

I’m all for organic gardening, so, when something started eating my tomato plant, the first step was of course to find out what it was.

Google helped with that… but, the only thing that seems to resemble this spiky little fellow is the Mexican Bean Beetle (larvae). Problem solved, except for the fact that they aren’t meant to be on the South Coast, let alone Australia.

There’s not much I can do for my tomato plants now, they ended up getting late blight (I think?!), however the bean beetle (if that’s what it is) could be a problem.

Being a total greenie at heart, I contacted the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to let them know of the ahem, possible invasion. I’ve since sent a sample off and am now, with much trepidation, waiting to hear the news. Trepidation because it’s probably a common pest that is going to make me look like the amateur gardener that I am (ie a fool). Damn karma. If I could’ve sent the bug without drowing it in alcohol first I would have. Really.

Anyway, if you know what it is, please let me know.